A new investigation by the Los Angeles Times reveals that a deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department kept his job even after he was caught replacing missing blood evidence with spilled taco sauce.
According to the LA Times, Deputy Jose Ovalle took taco sauce and spilled it on a shirt to replicate a bloody shirt that was to be used as evidence. The shirt, which had originally gotten blooded during a prison brawl, had gone missing, which was why Ovalle took the unusual step of creating fake evidence.
Ovalle copped to concocting the evidence when he was later confronted about it, although he was nonetheless allowed to keep his job. In fact, the LA Times reports, he's since been promoted.
"Ovalle... has also moved up in the department despite that 2003 incident," the publication reports. "The following year, he saved a woman from a burning car, according to a department publication. He was awarded a gold medal for meritorious conduct."
However, Ovalle's continued employment at the department compromised a 2008 case against a suspected gang member whose weapon Ovalle recovered from the crime scene. The gang member's attorneys seized on the taco sauce incident to insist that he could not be trusted to honestly gather evidence, which led prosecutors to strike a deal with the suspect to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
Ovalle's story is just one of many cases the LA Times has found are part of a secret list at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department that "now includes about 300 deputies with histories of dishonesty and similar misconduct."